Somewhere in the U.S., it’s still Monday even though here I’ve just put the kids on the bus to Neckerchief Academy for their Tuesday. For yesterday’s listicle--which I’m going to pretend is today’s prompt–Greta gave us a prompt that is basically an exercise in eating humble pie: a list of ten things we said we’d never do…and then did. I did this list the easy way: I thought about being a parent and how often being a parent seems to result in eating one’s own words with remarkable frequency. Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe the rest of you don’t have this problem. Sigh.
1. “because I said so, that’s why.” Yes. That was me. And more than once. The phrase of parental last resort–and it’s not a resort that I’d like to visit as often as I seem to be doing.
2. There was a time, back in the day, when I thought team sports were the exclusive realm of the Great Santini and his offspring. I didn’t play a team sport growing up (me and hand-eye coordination were strangers for a long, long time); I don’t follow a particular team; I don’t get the whole “team” thing. Mostly I just don’t play well with others, is what it boils down to. But then Liam fell in love with soccer and there I was…standing on the sidelines in the freezing cold, driving all over New York to games, and here in Abu Dhabi, I’m back in the shlep-wagon, out to soccer school, over to practice…And you know what? Being on a soccer team (and having the great coaches he had in NYC–thank you, Sean and Marcus) — it’s the best thing that could’ve ever happened to him. Of course, my weekends are shot to hell, but hey, who needs a weekend away, right? Rah rah rah go team.
3. “do you know how many starving children there are in the world who would eat that?” I have a very clear memory, when my mother would say that to me, of saying back to her “well why don’t you mail my food to the kids in Biafra then, hmm?” Funny, she didn’t seem to appreciate that idea. I remember also thinking to myself “I will never, ever say such a stupid thing to my kids.” Yeah. Well. Um. What can I say. It’s true, dammit. So eat your carrots!
4. In graduate school, I spent a lot of time thinking about feminism, poststructuralism, gender theory, and other stuff that now makes my early-middle-aged brain hurt to even contemplate. At the time, however, my friends and I sat around talking learnedly about how gender differences were really just socially constructed ideologies that could be done away with if parents would just be a little more, you know, thoughtful. I believed my own words until the first time my little boy picked up a stick and said “pwang pwang pwang…” I’m still a feminist but now I’m a feminist who has to accept that she has sons who will, for reasons known only to their DNA, step over or around the socks on the floor, leave the toilet seat down, and look at her blankly when she says “why did you knock that over?” Let me be clear–they are made to put the socks in the laundry, wipe off the toilet seat, pick up the thing they knocked down. But I’m fighting against genetics, here, people, which means that, yes, I’ve been that person who smiles and shrugs and says “well (nervous giggle), you know, boys…” Ugh.
5. Related to 4: when my boys were toddlers, I’d watch their adorable chubby selves playing “bakery” in the sandbox and look in horror at those ill-bred “big boys” playing chase and I’m-gonna-shoot-you-with-my-triblatteringlaserpistolgrappler. I’d be all smug and judgey and decide that the mothers of these boys had utterly failed. I mean really, what mother would let her children play such a violent game? Um…hi. That would be me. And I’ve even said “run around and chase with your friends,” because I recognize that children are like puppies. They need to be exercised regularly or they’ll just wreck the furniture. .
6. MY children will never be like those OTHER children who walk around surgically attached to their screens. Cue hysterical laughter here. Computers, e-readers, DSi, iPod touch…the electronics in this family could stock an Apple store. I think we manage their computer time pretty well but the sad fact is that when screens are up, bickering is down.
7. You know how when you were little and your mom would spit a bit on her shirttail or (worse) her fingers and smootch at your cheek to get off the remnants of your last meal? And remember how you thought “god that is gross!” Remember how you thought, nah, you’d never do such a thing? Yep. I thought so too. And then just yesterday, I grabbed Caleb’s arm just before he got on the school bus and swiped–with my shirt and some spit–at the glob of jam on his cheek. He said “MOM THAT’S DISGUSTING” and squirmed away.
8. I never thought I would have sons. How’s that for hubris? I always wanted to have children but in my mind’s eye, it was always me and charlottedoralucyameliaruby reading Little House on the Prairie and playing dress-up and then later, when they were grownups, my daughters and I would hang out and have long conversations about Life and Shoes and Relationships. They’d tell me what to wear so I didn’t look too dowdy and we’d be the best of friends. But noooo, the gods have a larky sense of humor and so I am the mother of boys, which means I don’t sit on the beach and flip through magazines. No, it’s SWIM and DIG and PLAY BALL WITH ME and DIG and SWIM. And when I’m an old woman living alone with a hundred cats, the boys will buy me the valu-pak of Depends and the high-grade cat food, and congratulate themselves on being good sons.
9. I would never make separate meals for my picky eaters. If they don’t want to eat what I cook, then they’ll go hungry. HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHA My children’s eating habits keep me in a state of perpetual humility. I have failed here and here and here and will probably fail again at dinner tonight.
10. God. Some people just can’t shut up about their damn kids. That’s what I thought. And then I started a blog.
Double-dipping this week: this post also links to the wonderful lovelinks site–it’s like Cheers bar for small bloggers (or micro bloggers, in my case). It’s where everyone knows our (screen) name and they’re always glad we came, where everybody can see that all our troubles are the same…and now everyone knows that I’m old enough to remember that show when it wasn’t in reruns! Click on the button below to find some great reading–and then come back on Thursday to vote for your favorites. I won’t even be mad if you don’t vote for me!